The NFL Draft was a hurricane of drama, suspense, and excitement. The Atlanta Falcons came away with multiple players that should be making an immediate impact.
Here are a couple of thoughts I had during the weekend:
1.What does Atlanta do now at Tight End?
Atlanta obviously has far more faith in Levine Toilolo than we ever imagined. The former 4th round pick had his ups and downs last season. In fact, the only tight end that was added to the roster was an undrafted free agent (Jacob Pedersen). The Falcons are moving away from an offense in which their tight end is a legitimate scoring threat. They want more blockers, less receivers. Toilolo is 6’7”, he should be a red zone threat with his height alone. However, he struggled last season with drops. Atlanta is gambling on him to be the starter, and this move could be very risky. Atlanta brought in a veteran in Bear Pascoe before the draft, who should provide added depth in the run game as a blocker. Without a threat in the middle of the field, Atlanta will see bracket coverage on the perimeter. Matt Ryan will have to be more precise than ever, forcing his star receivers to pick up for the lack of tight end production.
2. Where is the Pass Rush?
Atlanta wanted to build their defense from the inside-out. Therefore, they neglected to draft outside pass rush help until later in the draft. It was rumored that Atlanta attempted to trade back into the first round to secure Dee Ford, however that trade obviously never came to pass. The majority of Atlanta’s draft picks were along the defensive front seven. You will get no argument from me on this. Atlanta needed to improve their depth at every level, including injecting athleticism into a defense who fails to meet the eyeball test. Ra’Shede Hageman makes a lot of sense when you break down what Atlanta wants to become defensively. He may have played DT in college, but Atlanta views him as a defensive end. He is a freakish athlete, who has the potential to be the gem of this draft class. Prince Shembo and Tyler Starr gives Atlanta some outside pass rush, but Starr is a longshot from making this roster. He may be a fan favorite in camp. Watch out!
The Falcons’ lack of attention towards this need in the Draft proves that their faith in Massaquoi and Biermann was not merely wordplay this spring. I may not like it, heck, you most likely do not, but this is the reality of the 2014 Atlanta Falcons. Drafting rotational edge rushers should at least help out the transition into the 3-4. The best thing Atlanta did on Day 3 of the Draft was adding inside linebackers. Speed was sorely lacking from Atlanta’s front seven. I believe Marquis Spruill could be a very nice situational player for the Falcons. Could Akeem Dent be on his way out in Atlanta? Possibly. I do not see the logic in Atlanta trading up for Spruill, as he most likely would have been available in the sixth round. This trade rubbed me the wrong way, it just did not seem to follow Atlanta’s draft strategy. Spruill plays Dent’s same role in Nolan’s defense, we all know Dent is solid in run support, but fails to help us get off the field in passing downs. Spruill will be a player to watch this summer. His tape displays his ability to sack the quarterback from inside blitzes. They traded up for him, the pressure is on. The Falcons could bring in a few veterans over the summer, but as for now the outside linebacker position is very cloudy.